FIG1Two bills were introduced in
Congress last month to expand the use of information technology in the health
Rep. Patrick Kennedy: "Structural flaws in our health care system
cost tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars each
The bill by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), chair of the Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, parallels the federal health information
technology strategy outlined by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary
Tommy Thompson last month (see story above). It establishes federal leadership
by creating an Office of Health Information Technology (HIT) within HHS headed
by HIT coordinator David Brailer, M.D., Ph.D. It also promotes the development
of data standards and implementation, funds incentives, and creates
standardized measures of quality of care.
The bill that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) introduced is the Josie King
Act (HR 4880), named after an 18-month-old girl who died due to a medical
error that was preventable, according to Kennedy's press release.
Kennedy announced the legislation in June as the Quality, Efficiency,
Standards, and Technology (QUEST) for Healthcare Transformation Act
(Psychiatric News, July 16). However, the bill was expanded before it
was officially introduced as the Josie King Act in July.
The legislation calls for regional electronic networks to enable patients
and health care professionals to exchange information in a private and secure
manner, according to the release.
Kennedy's bill also calls for developing standardized measures of health
care professionals' performance and annual public measures that could lead to
a new "pay for performance" initiative.
The bill also includes these provisions:
"Our health care system failed Josie King, as it's failed so many
people," said Kennedy. "As incredible as our medical care can be,
structural flaws in our health care system cost tens of thousands of lives and
hundred of billions of dollars each year. We can and must do
Twenty percent of tests and labs ordered are redundant and avoidable if the
results of previous tests were available, the release states. Clinicians use
evidence-based medicine only 55 percent of the time, and information
technology spending in health care is less than one-third of similar spending
in banking, according to the release.
S 2710 can be accessed online by searching on the bill number at<http://thomas.loc.gov>.
Kennedy's bill, HR 4880, was not online by press time; his press release is